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Professor Thusi Contributes to Salon.com Piece on Trump Administration Efforts to Reinstate Harsh "School-to-Prison" Pipeline Policies

Professor India Thusi

Earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio sent a letter to the Departments of Justice and Education seeking to blame the Parkland, Florida shooting on 2014 guidelines originally intended to combat "school-to-prison pipeline" policies.

In a recent Salon.com article, California Western Professor India Thusi explains how the Obama-era guidelines sought to address hypercriminalization in schools. "Following the Columbine shooting [in 1999], many schools responded by adopting these harsh zero-tolerance policies," says Thusi. "They were well-intended, but what they ended up creating was a school environment where many students of color were being criminalized."

According to Thusi, this happened by way of excessive referrals to the criminal justice system for minor acts of disciplinary misconduct and the use of suspensions and expulsions in a discriminatory manner. The article further describes a disproportionate number of impacted students with learning disabilities and histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect—who would benefit from additional educational and counseling services, rather than isolative regulations.

In January 2014, the DOE detailed various ways that schools could reduce the use of suspension, expulsion, and calls to law enforcement to deal with disciplinary problems, including early interventions and efforts to create a more positive, friendly school environment that encourages sociable behavior.

Now, the Trump administration seems keen to resurrect decades-old reactionary strategies within the U.S. education system. "If you adopt harsh disciplinary practices and turn schools into prisons and teachers into military personnel," says Thusi, "you only create an environment where students are less inclined to reach out to teachers and administrators when they need assistance or when they have valuable information to share."

Read the full Salon.com article at https://www.salon.com/2018/03/21/trump-exploits-parkland-shooting-by-trying-to-push-more-kids-out-of-school/.